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LawBiz® TIPS – Week of July 22, 2014

LawBiz(r) newsletter

Today is 10 weeks since my surgery ... and my doctor says I'm 80% recovered ... and that the remaining 20% will take a lot longer. Of course, everyone's path of recovery is different. But, I'm pleased and have now been given my "exit pass from jail." Meaning I can drive once again. Driving Miss Daisy was a great movie, but I'm ready to give up the role of Miss Daisy.

This reminds me of the mantra my coach asserts frequently, "Success, not perfection, is the goal." Lawyers seek perfection. This, of course, only increases our stress. When you've reached 80% of your goal, move forward. You will achieve greater success ... and perfection isn't possible anyway.

Thank you for all your wishes of speedy recovery over the last 10 weeks. I'm moving forward with my life.

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Saying No to No Contest Pleas

The answer is no – to no contest pleas from accused lawyers. So says the State Bar of California.

Although a no contest plea – also called a nolo contendere plea – had in the past been commonly accepted in state disciplinary proceedings against lawyers, that changed under the leadership of the current chief trial counsel.

Part of the rationale for this new thinking is that lawyers need to take responsibility for their actions. However, other than civil damages, the effect of a nolo contendere plea is the same as that of a guilty plea-and punishment is no less.

The other part of the rationale for this new anti-no-contest-plea thinking is that there is no requirement for the state bar to accept a nolo contendere plea. However, the fact is that settlement benefits everyone because it saves time and money. Most criminal prosecutors will negotiate with accused offenders. Obviously, this is done to move the trial court calendar along and eliminate the need to tie up resources that could be used elsewhere. Even in civil matters, parties negotiate settlements in order to achieve reasonable business outcomes and move on with life.

In some civil instances, an insurance company has been known to say that it will not settle at all, that everything will have to go to trial. This clearly delays the outcomes-and enables the insurance carrier to withhold payment for some time. I have not seen any studies about the merits of such a tactic from the carrier's perspective. It does, however, frustrate plaintiffs, and frustration without economic benefit is hardly a good business outcome.

This is just one more example of the California State Bar's new adversarial attitude toward its members. Although the new directive of the state bar is intended solely to protect the public (not help its members, who pay all the expenses of the bar), one has to wonder how the public is being helped by this new approach.

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Saying No to No Contest Pleas

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Video: Ethical Considerations in Collecting Your Fee

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Ethical Considerations in Collecting Your Fee 

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"In the short time that Ed has been coaching me, his comments and guidance have been invaluable. Within weeks, he has improved my self-confidence immeasurably, guided me to run my law practice more like a business and most importantly, helped me obtain my goal of increasing my income while decreasing the time I spend working. It is a joy and pleasure working with Ed and I look forward to each coaching session. My only regret is that I did not start with you sooner."

Atlanta, GA

"I was initially reluctant to expend the money for Ed Poll's strategic planning session, but knew that in order to grow in an organized manner, I needed to spend the time in a one-on-one session. By the end of the first hour of our session, Ed helped me formulate a plan which, when implemented, resulted in an amazing return on the investment of the session. Ed then proceeded to analyze my financial statements and helped me to see my business in strictly financial terms - something us attorneys don't normally do. If we had concluded our session then, I would have felt that it was extremely worthwhile and would have felt that I had received my "money's worth." But I have now used Ed as my business coach for the past two years and have been extremely impressed with his practical approach to the practice of law. With Ed's encouragement, I find myself coming up with creative ideas regarding how to grow my business. I now feel that I can engage in the business of law, leaving my team to engage in the practice of law."

London, England


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